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The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0465024377 ISBN-10: 0465024378 Edition: 2 Updated

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2 Updated edition (August 18, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465024378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465024377
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 3.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Science writing at its best." -- --Martin Gardner, New York Review of Books

About the Author

Steven Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. He is the Josey Regental Professor of Science at the University of Texas in Austin and the author of many books, most recently Dreams of a Final Theory.

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Customer Reviews

The book is written at a level that can be understood by the lay person.
G. Reid
If you want to get an idea of how the universe came to be what we see around us, this is a great place to start.
Mark Showalter
So, if you even have a passing interest in cosmology, I would HIGHLY recommend this book.
D. Roberts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 136 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephen Weinberg received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Harvard university and has taught at the university of Texas for decades. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1979 and has worked with such distinguished personages as the late Richard P. Feynman. In short, he is one of the leading minds in his field.
The First Three Minutes is an unusual book in astronomy / cosmology because it is now over 20 years old & yet it is STILL one of the classics of the "story" of the universe for the layman & non-expert. The book takes us on an exhilerating journey all the way back to the Plank epoch (10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang). Weinberg also deals with Einstein's theory of Relativity (which predicted the Big Bang), the Hubble Red Shift (the discovery that the universe is expanding) as well as the detection of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) in the 1960's by Ralph Wilson and Arno Penzias. All three of these factors, plus numerous other details all form the foundation for the way most scientists think about our universe (presently known as the Big Bang theory).
One of the things about Weinberg that I admire is that, like Carl Sagan, he concedes that he MIGHT be wrong, but that what he has to work with is the best paradigm available. This is brutally honest & also quite a refreshing approach. I tire quickly of reading science books that are written by individuals who are so conceited as to believe they know everything there is to know. One certainly does not have to worry about that type of arrogance with Weinberg.
So, if you even have a passing interest in cosmology, I would HIGHLY recommend this book.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Muddy Moe on February 20, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a true layman, having had NO education in physics beyond high school "physical science." However, I have read Hawking's "Brief History of Time," Timothy Ferris' "The Whole Shebang," and read Scientific American. I say this to point out that you do not need to bring a great deal of knowledge to the table to appreciate this book, provided you have some aptitude for cosomology. And, sure, it helps to have a passing acquaintance with General Relativity, Special Relativity, and some of the basics of particle physics. I can't imagine anybody would pick up this book if they didn't already have some passing interest in cosmology and had read a few magazine articles.
The text is clear and, considering the subject matter, amazingly brief. The author does not dummy down the mathematics too much either, which is a fault of some books written for laymen. On the other hand, he also doesn't overwhelm the reader with mathematics either. He wisely chooses to include a mathematics appendix and lets you either explore the math or not.
Quantum mechanics and general relatively are not particularly "intuitive" topics, so any beginning reader is going to have to read this slowly, carefully, and with some patience. But the book is as clear and open to lay people as I've yet encountered.
And, frankly, I think any educated lay person should have a BASIC understanding of the principles in this book. For the curious, this is a great place to start. And even if you've been through the "story" before, this book is great for reinforcing the story of the birth of the universe in a concise, holistic layout.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. head on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
There is an acute shortage of the accounts of the early universe for the layman. This book covers the first few minutes of the universe written by a Nobel prize winning physists, Steven Weinberg. All in all, this text is a very good expose' and really not outdated for the casual reader. It covers string theory, the pros and cons for an open and closed universe, and dark matter question. The meat of the book is based on the fact that as the original universe cooled, seconds after the big bang and sub-atomic particles were allowed to form. "If" the big "If" this primordial ball attained equilibrium then many assumptions can be made from present day evidence directly back to early primordial conditions. The cooling proto-universe had particle formation ratios and radiation emitting frequencies that can be evidenced today. As the universe cooled additional particles were allowed to form and various radiation frequencies were allowed to escape.

The author Steven Weinberg has a very natural style of writing, translating the extremes of physical theory into a step- by-step progression of the beginning universe. A very rewarding book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on November 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Why do I still like this book, written back in the 1970s, long before, say, the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating?

Well, I like it because it is well written. What it says is solid and valid. There's very little speculation, and when something speculative is said, it is clearly labeled as such.

This explains what we Know about the Big Bang. Not what we think happened, but what we can prove happened. What we know because we see the expansion of the universe, because we see the cosmic microwave background, and because we see the leftover helium from Big Bang nucleosynthesis in those awesome three or four minutes in which our universe was truly a hot place.

You need very little background to appreciate this book: just an interest in what happened in our Universe in less than four minutes, more than ten billion years ago. And even if you know plenty of physics and astronomy, if you haven't read this book, it's worth the time it takes to read it.
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